Plus a promising day for Williams, Red Bull and Toyota
Kimi Raikkonen upped the ante as testing continued at Malaysias Sepang International Circuit on Wednesday. The Ferrari star clocked a fastest lap of 1m 35.258s, almost a second quicker than Robert Kubicas Tuesday best for BMW Sauber.
Ten teams - all bar Spyker - were again in action in preparation for next months Malaysian Grand Prix. All were running a single car in line with the 2007 Testing Agreement, with Honda, Super Aguri and Toro Rosso using two drivers.
At Ferrari, Raikkonen was charged with electronics and aerodynamics testing on the F2007, the Finn completing 61 laps before he hands over to team mate Felipe Massa for Thursdays session.
Williams showed promising pace as Alex Wurz went second fastest, half a second down on Raikkonen, while Red Bull and Toyota also had encouraging sessions, David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher third and fourth respectively.
We had a productive day today, trying out various set-ups and making tyre comparisons for the race here at Sepang next weekend, reported Gerd Pfeiffer, Toyotas test team manager. It was very positive that we completed the day without any mechanical problems despite the heat. The only small delay came when Ralf spun but there was no damage done so that did not cost much time. After completing so many laps, we have a lot of information about how the car handles on this track with each different type of tyre.
Tuesday pacesetter Kubica was again the busiest driver, racking up 111 laps as BMW Sauber continued race set-up work and evaluation of Bridgestones two tyre compounds for the Sepang event. The Pole also did further checks on cooling and electrical systems, as well as carrying out start simulations. Nick Heidfeld will complete the teams programme on Thursday.
Lewis Hamilton finished sixth for McLaren, after familiarising himself with the circuit, ahead of Takuma Sato in the Super Aguri and Rubens Barrichello in the Honda. Barrichello suffered an engine failure on his first full run, but subsequently completed an aero evaluation with a fresh V8 fitted.
Satos team mate Anthony Davidson was also back in the Super Aguri cockpit, having recovered from the bruised back he sustained in the Australian Grand Prix. He was 11th in the times, just behind Hondas Jenson Button, who took over from team mate Barrichello in the afternoon.
Renaults Heikki Kovalainen was another man getting his first taste of Sepang. The Finn worked on set-up and aerodynamic evaluations, plus a number of practice pit-stops, allowing him to fine-tune his technique. Covering 81 laps, he completed his programme without difficulty and was ninth fastest for the day.
This was a pretty positive first day for me, said Kovalainen. It is great fun driving here. The conditions are incredibly hot, but the track was really enjoyable to drive. I felt comfortable straight away, was able to push hard and the times were consistent. The balance of the car was pretty good, and we did some interesting tests. We learned a lot today and will try and build on that tomorrow.
Toro Rosso team mates Scott Speed and Tonio Liuzzi completed the Wednesday line-up in 12th and 13th spots respectively. Less than a tenth of a second separated the pair as development continued with the STR2.
Conditions at Sepang were again hot and humid, with clear skies, an air temperature high of 36 degrees Celsius and peak track temperature of 45 degrees. Testing continues at the circuit on Thursday.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Sepang:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:35.258
2. Alexander Wurz, Williams, 1:35.702
3. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:35.712
4. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 1:35.751
5. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:35.887
6. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:36.115
7. Takuma Sato, Super Aguri, 1:36.306
8. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:36.563
9. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:36.578
10. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:36.617
11. Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 1:37.876
12. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso, 1:37.910
13. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso, 1:37.971